Some details of how the President Muhammadu Buhari‘s government expended about N1.5 billion to evacuate Nigerian nationals across Europe back to the country during the Russia-Ukraine war has emerged.
Naija News gathered that the total amount spent to evacuate 1,500 persons from three European countries to Nigeria in 10 days in March 2022, when converted into naira, is N1,543,513,266.944 (approximately N1.5 billion).
The information is contained in a response to the Freedom of Information (FOI) letter written by a civic group, Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), asking the agency to explain how it spent the approved $8.5 million budget for the immediate evacuation of about 5,000 Nigerians stranded in Poland, Romania and Hungary when the Russia-Ukraine war started.
In a copy of NEMA’s response to the letter obtained by SaharaReporters on Wednesday, the agency said it spent $3,546,912.48 (N1,467,712,384.224 at the exchange rate of N413.8), €84,952 (N39,320,882.72 at the exchange rate of N462.86 and N36,480.
NEMA in it’s response revealed that the operation lasted between March 3 and 13, 2022, and $2,224,000.00 was paid to three airlines – Air Peace Limited, Azman Air Limited, and Max Air Limited – to airlift a total of 1,500 Nigerian citizens from Europe during the war.
The agency said Air Peace Limited received $1,224,000.00; Azman Air Limited received $500,000.00 and Max Air Limited also received $500,000.00.
In a further break down, NEMA revealed that on March 4, 2022, Max Air flew 415 returnees from Romania while Air Peace flew 181 from Poland and 174 from Hungary, while om March 6, 2022, Air Peace flew 306 returnees from Hungary, and 123 from Poland while Azman Air flew 301 from Hungary.
Other payments for logistics and other items include payment to the Refugees Commission (Logistics) – $82,737.34, which is equivalent to N33,770,900.00, payment to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Ministry (Logistics) – $14,318.51(USD) (equivalent to N5,925,000.00), payment to Foreign Affairs Ministry (Foreign Mission) – $1,076,156.63, another payment of Foreign Affairs Ministry (Foreign Mission) – €84,952.00 and payment to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for (Logistics) – N36,480,000.00.
Also, NEMA said 1497 returnees were paid $100 each, totalling $149,700.00 to empower them to their various destination after they landed safely in Nigeria.
This indicates that the agency did not exhaust the government-approved $8.5 million budgeted for the evacuation mission during the Russian-Ukraine war, leaving a balance of $4,793,504 (N1,983,551,999.256) left.